Bell agrees CAD3.4bn takeover of Astral
Telecoms and pay-TV group Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE) has agreed to acquire broadcasting content provider Astral Media in a deal valued at CAD3.38 billion (USD3.41 billion) including CAD380 million debt. If the transaction wins regulatory and anti-monopoly approval Astral – Canada’s largest pay-TV channel provider – will be integrated into the Bell Media division, which was formed in April 2011 following BCE’s purchase of the country’s largest media company, CTV. The gaining of additional broadcasting channels and other assets including Astral’s web-based content is also aimed at furthering BCE’s strategy of offering content across a range of platforms, including Bell Canada’s satellite TV and IPTV services (also offered by sister telco Bell Aliant), over-the-top web access and Bell Mobility’s mobile TV channels. BCE’s CEO George Cope stated at a press conference on Friday that Bell believes ‘TV everywhere is where the market is going,’ and noted that ‘200,000 to 300,000’ of Bell’s cellular subscribers are mobile TV viewers, compared to the group’s approximately 2.1 million pay-TV subscriber base. Cope also stressed that the purchase of Astral puts BCE ‘in a stronger competitive position’ against Quebecor, the parent of pay-TV and telecoms operator Videotron, Bell’s fierce rival in largely-francophone Quebec, as Astral owns the largest line-up of French-language pay-TV channels.
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